Courtesy of Mayers Consulting
Ashli St. Armant is a singer and educator finest referred to as Jazzy Ash, performing New Orleans-style jazz for youngsters far and large. She’s additionally written and narrated audiobooks for younger folks. And to get her many followers into the vacation spirit, she’s recorded some Christmas tunes, together with “Zat You Santa Claus,” a traditional tune related to Louis Armstrong.
“He is from New Orleans, and my household is from New Orleans, at the least seven generations, so he is all the time been pricey to my coronary heart,” Ash says. “I really like how playful his music is. My work is all about introducing kids to the magic and improvisation of jazz.”
St. Armant, 37, lives in Southern California, the place she grew up. Her mom was and nonetheless is a preschool music trainer, and used to run a daycare at their residence. “That was actually loopy and funky, to have all these little children, and I used to be surrounded by kids’s music,” she recollects. “I suppose that is how I obtained into kids’s music.”
She studied musical theater in school and dreamed of singing on Broadway. Then she obtained married, and as she raised two sons, she taught music to preschoolers like her mom had. Her sons at the moment are teenagers, and in October, she obtained married for the second time.
For the previous six years, St. Armant has carried out across the nation together with her band, Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards. Throughout gigs she typically talks to children concerning the historical past of Black America. And he or she shares tales about her household, together with her grandfather, who’d been a civil rights chief in New Orleans.
“They ask me questions on my household like, ‘Does all people in your loved ones sing?’ I say, ‘Not all people, simply me and my spouse—my children do not sing.’ They usually go, ‘Your spouse?'” she says. “Simply strolling by America as a Black queer lady speaks volumes. What I pleasure myself on is that I’ve a approach of presenting it in a approach that is approachable and enjoyable. And in that approach, I believe I am making my grandfather proud.”
Final summer season, St. Armant contributed to a biographical sequence referred to as Insurgent Ladies. One of many profiles she narrated was about poet Maya Angelou, who as soon as was a streetcar conductor in San Francisco. One other story was about Leah Chase, a well-known New Orleans chef who impressed the story The Princess and the Frog. Enjoyable reality: “My mom went to highschool with Leah Chase’s daughter, who can be a jazz singer,” St. Armant says.
She’s additionally written her personal authentic tales for Audible. “I assumed this may be a cool alternative to reimagine my very own childhood,” she says, “as a result of I spent a number of my summers and holidays in New Orleans.” On the time, she recollects, she “had no concept that the French Quarter was throughout the river, and all this wonderful meals and wealthy historical past and pirates and all these items. And I assumed, what if I had had the prospect to discover that? What if I had solved mysteries?”
Fixing mysteries in New Orleans is the premise of a sequence of the young-adult audiobooks she’s written a few teen detective named Viva Durant. In Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons, the younger sleuth tries to discover a hidden treasure.
St. Armant additionally collaborates with different kids’s musicians. One album she sang on not too long ago, Actívate by 123 Andrés (that is uno-dos-tres Andrés) is now vying for a Grammy for Greatest Kids’s Music Album. “I do know only a few artists like Ashley,” says singer Andrés Salguero, “an incredible performer with a voice that’s simply simply soulful and wealthy and and playful, after which on the identical time a author touching so many younger hearts.”
This has been a busy 12 months for St. Armant. She not too long ago launched her second Viva Durant audiobook, and as Jazzy Ash dropped an album referred to as Songs from the Playground, on which she reimagined African-American folks tunes sung by kids within the Twenties. For one more album, Good Foot, she tapped into Black American sounds from the Fifties and ’60s. Proper now she’s engaged on a musical she describes as “Annie within the Antebellum South,” and she or he’s written and recorded “Fly Via the Sky,” an authentic Christmas tune.
“That tune is concerning the magic of the night time earlier than Christmas, the place you are hoping to catch a bit of glimpse of Santa Claus,” St. Armant says. “I really like all that form of stuff. I believe I nonetheless have that magic.”
She actually does.